Multicultural Resource Centers
This article focuses on the foundation of a multicultural resource center. There are many thoughts as to what the role of diversity should be on many campuses across the country. Some would argue that each institution should be reflective of the community it represents, whereas others believe that diversity initiatives discriminate against the majority population. The use of multicultural resource centers can assist faculty and staff with guiding the student population in becoming culturally aware.
Keywords Affirmative Action; Culture Centered; Demographics; Diversity; Fundamentalism; Multicultural Resource Center; Multiculturalism; Political Correctness; Totalitarianism
The United States is moving toward becoming a society that has no ethnic majority. "The demand for multiculturalism is strong in the contemporary world and is invoked in the making of social, cultural and political policies, especially in Western Europe and the United States" (Sen, 2006, par 1). Demographics suggest that the world is moving toward becoming a multi-ethnic and international culture (Visions, n.d.). Sen (2006) asserted that this should not be a surprise considering the fact that increased global contacts and interactions, especially extensive migrations, have positioned the diverse practices of different cultures in close proximity to one another.
Many researchers and organizations have reported on the individual, institutional and societal benefits of diversity and teaching from culture-centered perspectives (Chang, Witt, Jones & Hakuta, 2000). For example, at the individual level, the benefits are generated as people become aware of and acknowledge racial differences. The institutional level is geared towards employers and focuses on how the organizational culture changes as a result of cross-cultural understanding. Benefits to society can be experienced as scholars continue to pursue research opportunities and address issues such as gender, race, ethnicity and affirmative action in the workplace.
• Individual Level: Regardless of whether or not a person is on the job, in the community or at an educational institution, they will encounter experiences with individuals who are different than themselves. Many will be curious and welcome the opportunity to learn about other cultures and differences, whereas, some may not.
Not everyone supports diversity. Some view this concept as a hindrance to society, and is as dangerous as communism. "Multiculturalism, as the new menace is known, has been denounced in the media as the new McCarthyism, the new fundamentalism, even the new totalitarianism - take your choice" (Ehrenreich, 1991, p. 84). Critics assert that followers of multiculturalism place too much emphasis on being politically correct at the risk of taking away a person's ability to have freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Being politically correct means constantly watching what one speaks in order to avoid offending someone else's value and belief system. Many conservative scholars believe that "when advocates of multiculturalism adopt the haughty stand of political correctness, they quickly descend to silliness or worse" (Ehrenreich, 1991, p. 85).
• Institutional Level: "The function of the university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment which forms the secret of civilization" (DuBois, 2005, p. 85). DuBois had a vision that institutions of higher education played a key role in shaping the minds of our future scholars. It was the institution's responsibility to bridge the gap between learning and taking the wealth of knowledge into the real world. The faculty members were charged with educating and preparing students to enter the real world, which was pluralistic and diverse. In order to achieve this goal, institutions had to provide an atmosphere and culture that allowed students to learn from different perspectives.
• Societal Level: For the leadership of higher education institutions, diversity is not a luxury; it is a necessity. "With the changing demographics of student populations and the emergence by 2060 of a "minority majority" country, faculty and staff on university and college campuses must reflect the increasingly diverse nature of the United States population; homogeneity is not an alternative" (Evans & Chun, 2007, p. 2). In order to meet the needs of the students, faculty and staff must be prepared to play a role in the development of the student body. Faculty members can play a role in the classroom by assisting students in becoming successful professional adults regardless of their cultural differences (Sawchuk, Taylor, Perry & Mt. Saint Mary's College, 1997). This type of activity can be achieved in multicultural resource centers.
The Center for Cultural Fluency
There are many thoughts as to what the role of diversity should be on many campuses across the country. Some would argue that each institution should be reflective of the community it represents, whereas, others believe that diversity initiatives discriminate against the majority population.
The use of multicultural resource centers can assist faculty and staff with guiding the student population in becoming culturally aware. The Center for Cultural Fluency at Mount St. Mary's college was founded in 1995 in order to fill the above-mentioned goal (Sawchuk, Taylor, Perry, and Mt. Saint Mary's College, 1997). Some important facts about the establishment are:
• The Center has been charged with teaching the truth about the United State's history.
• Every aspect of the College's education process is characterized by concern for the individual (i.e. the student's goals, talent and development).
• The Center is a resource center for K-12 teachers who are trying to address the cultural diversity in their classrooms. It provides materials such as books, videotapes, audio tapes, and art representing culturally diverse perspectives.
• The collection of resource materials serves as a basis for the professional development workshops that are run every fall. Participating teachers receive two continuing education units for participating in the forum and a $100 stipend to be spent on multicultural materials for their classrooms.
• The Center is staffed by education professors at the College. These professors have extensive expertise and experience in multicultural education and curriculum development.
• The staff at the Center has invited educators and community leaders to be part of the Advisory...
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